movie star drool

Snow White and the Huntsman

Snow White and the Huntsman had me when Charlize Theron got cast as the evil queen.  I mean, seriously – she’s absolutely gorgeous and she got the Oscar for playing Eileen Wournos.  Shit just got real.  Admittedly, I was not as enthusiastic about KStew playing Snow White.  She looks the part, granted, but I haven’t been impressed with her acting since Speak and that’s going back a ways.  The rest of the cast (Chris Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, and the always-ready-to-play-a-supporting-Dad-role Vincent Regan) had me intrigued.

And then the stills were released – yes, this was an opening weekend movie for me.

I really liked it.  Yes, the story is predictable, and, yes, KStew didn’t blow me out of the water with her acting but it was better than her performances in the Twilight films.  But Charlize Theron makes this movie – she’s not just a bat-shit crazy queen, behind all that she’s a woman determined to never let a man rule her again, obsessed with beauty as her only “power”.  There’s a depth to the character that isn’t seen in the fairy tale.

The cinematography was excellent.  There was an amazing shot of the castle in the morning light.  It had to be a composite – the sun on the water was real but the castle had to be CGI – and you really couldn’t tell the difference.  The SFX work with the “glass” soldiers was inspired and this movie needs an Oscar nomination at minimum for the make-up work on Charlize Theron.  I also liked they way the fairy tale was manipulated to be less prince-saves-princess and more princess-saves-her-own-skin (with the exception of the kiss to wake her up, but there’s a twist on that, too) and the set-up of a love triangle.

I have a few quibbles.  One, the overt Christian/Catholic religion stuff clashed badly with the overt paganistic/child-of-nature overtones and also went nowhere.  If you’re going to have Snow White say the Lord’s Prayer and have cardinals at her coronation, then throw in a priest or two trying to condemn Ravenna as a witch or something.  Two, the Ravenna’s castle take-over makes little sense timeline wise – wouldn’t it be better to wait until the wedding guests leave?  Then you can kill the King in private and no one is the wiser…unless you’re a bat-shit crazy evil queen with a revenge streak a mile wide (I guess this is less of a quibble and more of a logistics thing).  Three, I find it ridiculous that they did face-replacement, etc. to put normal-height actors’ faces on little peoples’ bodies.  I recognized Eddie Marsan, Nick Frost, Ian McShane, etc. but their presence didn’t seem integral to their parts.  There had to be eight (or more) male actors of the little people persuasion available – if Willow can find a whole movie full, there have to be enough for Snow’s dwarves (hey, Mirror, Mirror managed).

1. House at the End of the Street – Jennifer Lawrence, suitably creepy, not quite ready to view Elizabeth Shue as a mom of a teenager.
2. Step Up Revolution – the story is secondary to the dancing, definitely a talent showcase for different dance forms (and it looks slick)
3. Katy Perry: Part Of Me – I dunno…meh?
4. Les Miserables – um, heck yes!  I am a little worried about Russell Crowe as Javert…will Stars be the same?  (and no, Taylor Swift is NOT Eponine)
5. The Bourne Legacy – Jeremy Renner!  Looks like a great action flick

Romantic Reads · stuff I read

These Old Shades

I’ve been meaning to read Heyer for some time – An Infamous Army was recc’d to me ages ago in my Literature by Women group but I never got around to it. Then come to find out it’s part of the Alastair trilogy…guess I better start with the first one.

Which is These Old Shades. It’s Georgian, set mostly in Paris (and French environs, with a jaunt to England), and opens with the main character, Justin Alastair, the Duke of Avon, buying a teenage (but rather delicate-looking) boy from his boorish/criminal (?) elder brother. Justin is rather struck by the similarity of the boy, Leon, to someone (an enemy) he knows and he makes Leon his page.

Leon is rather devoted to Justin.

Everyone thinks Justin is an awful person – apparently he tried to kidnap a young lady to make her marry him?  And his nickname is “Satanas”….  In reality he’s probably no more or less awful than anyone else, he just doesn’t make nice to everyone.  Sure, he likes visiting his mistress and lives an extravagant lifestyle but he’s not nasty.  He strikes me as a prettier version of the Vicomte de Valmont from Les Liaisons Dangereuses – rich, powerful, disdainful, and would rather die than have everyone realise he has a kind heart under all that. He’s quite the pattern-card for historical romance rakes everywhere.

And then Leon turns out to be far more than just a pretty page with red hair – he’s really Leonie, and she has quite a story.

Heyer doesn’t dwell on her characters’ inner monologues. No one ponders their feelings unless it’s integral to the plot. She does everything through dialogue (except the clothing descriptions – those are rather detailed). As such, the marriage plot sort-of comes out of left field at you. I knew it was coming but I was still surprised because neither character had expressed a great deal of strong emotion of that nature (Leonie yelling “bah” all the time isn’t really a strong emotion).

You can tell this is an older book not by Heyer’s style but by what she leaves out. There are bits and pieces of Leonie’s story left to the imagination: when she details life with her “brother” a significant chunk is glossed over so the reader is never fully informed as to what she went through between the ages of 12 and 19. Justin is suitably angry, but the reader is left to imagine.  Were this a novel written in 2012 the reader would get all the gory details.  (I would have liked footnotes – you hear me, Sourcebooks?  My French isn’t very good so I would appreciate footnotes for the less-obvious French phrases.)

Now, for those who find the style had to get through – keep going. The denouement is a great stroke of genius and very much worth the reading to get there.

Next up for my Heyer reading: Devil’s Cub